Archive for December, 2011

Ahead to 2012

Sunday, 11th December 2011; 10:32 pm

When l last checked in, I was having a bad day… make that a bad week. The Big Ride for 2011 had just ended prematurely on a down note, and I was in no mood for chit-chat.

Fast-forward four months.

The scootering season in Michigan has all but come to an end. The roads here are mostly clear and dry today, but there have been a few days already when they were covered in ice or slush, and I’ll probably be bringing the scooter indoors for hibernation before long. So naturally, I’m starting to make plans for next year.

When I had to skip the last few days of my ride across the Wrist of Michigan back in August, I briefly considered replacing my tent and finishing the ride over a weekend in September. What stopped me was my spine. No, not my lack thereof, but some complications from the surgery I had back in April, to fix a pinched nerve at the base of my neck. The nerve was getting irritated, which meant similar symptoms coming back. While this didn’t prevent me from continuing with most regular activities, I had to be more careful about how I slept, which meant that sleeping on the ground in a tent was not a good idea.

I’m doing better now, thanks, and by the time traveling weather rolls around next year I expect to be fit for camping. And finishing the Wrist ride would be a good way to confirm that, and to give a new tent a shake-down cruise. I only missed two camp sites on the 2011 itinerary (Pokagon State Park in NE Indiana, and VanBuren State Park on Lake Michigan), so I can ride out from GR, pick up the route around where I left it, and complete the trip in three days. A long weekend. I’m thinking of doing it in mid-May, beating the Memorial Day crowds.

If all goes well, that will clear the way for the next Big Ride. I have two options to choose from: A) crossing Lake Michigan to Wisconsin, touring the western UP, and returning; and B) riding up through the northern LP, taking in the eastern UP, and returning by a different route through the LP.

I think I’m going with option B for next year. Mostly because it’d be a shorter and easier ride. Yeah, I’m getting cautious and practical in my old age. But I’m also getting ambitious. Let me explain:

If I’m going to ride through the western UP, I’m going to the Keweenaw Peninsula. It’s part of the territory, and it’s oh-so-worth-it. If I go into the Keweenaw Peninsula, I’m going all the way to Copper Harbor. Because I’ve done it by car, and it’s a great ride. And if I’m in Copper Harbor, I’m sure as hell going to get on a ferry and go to Isle Royale, one of my favorite places on the planet, where I stayed for 10 days last time I was there. Now, I’m not going to try to work in a 10-day backpacking trip in the middle of a scooter ride, but the point is that a ride to that part of the state is going to require more than just the time it takes to get there and back. I’d really want to make a two-week trip out of it. So for 2012 I’m going to go with the ride that I can do in “only” a week.

So the rough outline of the 2012 ride is as follows: riding north from Grand Rapids through northwest lower Michigan to Mackinac, across the Straits then eastward to Detour (at the tip of the UP) and north to Sault Ste Marie and the Soo Locks, to Tahquamenon Falls, down through the eastern UP to Mackinac, then southward through northeast lower Michigan, and back to GR. I have some tentative selections of where to stay, which would work out to a 7-night/8-day ride. But that’s best saved for another day.